Sitting on a shelf in our shed is a napkin holder that only a mother could love. And mine did.

She didn't love it for its beauty -- she kept it on her kitchen counter for more than 30 years because I had made it.

It was the product of my seventh-grade industrial arts class -- the metal shop phase. Only an industrial arts teacher could have found reason to fashion a napkin holder from twisted black wrought iron and metal lattice. It's so sturdy it would remain intact amid the ruins of a nuclear blast.

Maybe that's why it endured all those decades, even though it never matched her kitchen decor.

But I think it's more likely that my mother kept it around because it was a gift that reminded her of me, especially after I had moved far away and started my own family.

I cannot bring myself to put it in our own kitchen now -- it's brutally ugly and a little worn after all these years. But as my brother and I sifted through her belongings before she moved into an assisted living facility, I decided to take it home with me.

I didn't make many things when I was a kid. I wasn't handy then, and I'm not handy now. It was only because industrial arts classes were required that I endured working with machines I feared would cut off my fingers.

But as we pored through Mom's apartment full of stuff, I was touched to see the napkin holder was still there, and I didn't want to add it to the many items we were donating to The Salvation Army. It probably wouldn't sell even in a thrift store.

Mom is now in a nursing home, and for lack of space, she lives without the comfort of familiar items.

But at least she's still here, at the age of 84. And I'm sure the napkin holder will be around a long time, even if it's only collecting dust in my shed.

Valdostan Frank Eye's mother recently marked 100 years on this earth on April 29.

Mary Eye lives in Anderson County, Kansas, and is still leading an active life. She even cooked for about 20 relatives who visited to celebrate her birthday, according to an article in the local newspaper there.

She's been playing the piano for the Garnett Rotary Club weekly since 1978, continuing a lifelong love of music that began when she studied music as a young girl. She later was a teacher and married Frank Eye, a physician, who died in 1960.

Her son told me she often visits Valdosta and on occasion has taught Sunday school at the First Baptist Church.

I liked what one person said about her to the local newspaper: "She's the most genuinely good person I know," said Scott Schulte. "She's a religious woman, but she doesn't throw religion down your throat. She practices what she preaches."

In addition to Frank, she has a daughter, Lonita Proctor of Shelby, N.C., another son, Pete Eye of Kansas City, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Asked by the Anderson County Review how she's lived to be 100, Mrs. Eye said she's never smoked or drank. She's eaten what she likes, played the piano, and showed and received a lot of love. Sounds like a great way to live.

Ron Wayne is the editor of The Valdosta Daily Times.

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